Research suggests how environmental toxin produced by algae may lead to ALS

Can a computer be used to explain why an environmental toxin might lead to neurodegenerative disease? According to Penn State College of Medicine researchers, a computer generated-simulation allowed them to see how a toxin produced by algal blooms in saltwater might cause Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).

Penn State researchers studied how an environmental toxin may affect the structure of a protein and lead to a neurodegenerative disease. Above is a model of the protein, copper-zinc superoxide dismutase, with the toxin, β-Methylamino-L-alanine, incorporated into its structure.  IMAGE: ELIZABETH PROCTOR